It seems Facebook is testing a new ‘Lite’ version of its website. It’s a stripped-down Twitter-like interface with the ability to post photos and videos, as seen in this screenshot from Techcrunch. A little FriendFeed-like, don’t you think?
Why is Facebook going Lite? (Updated with official news from Facebook – see below)
It’s unlikely that this is a complete change of direction for Facebook. They’re unlikely to be leaving their community of App developers out in the cold any time soon (even if apps have been shunted away from easy viewing in Facebook recently). This is more likely a wise play for the mobile and third party app market.
Let’s face it, while you can use a mobile version of Facebook on your phone, it’s hardly an optimal experience. If Facebook strips out all the non-essentials, Facebook becomes very much about statuses, content sharing and discussion – the perfect content for mobile phone screens, Adobe Air apps and the like.
Facebook is making some interesting moves with email as well. Could it be that in the future users will be using Facebook Lite for most of their basic social networking with email being used to send and reply to messages and interact with some apps? FriendFeed can be pretty much controlled by email – you can post, reply, subscribe to other users and more all via email. With their engineers moving to Facebook we could be seeing more of that very soon.
Everything’s uncertain except that there are very interesting times ahead for Facebook and its users.
Facebook is testing the new UI at http://lite.facebook.com – not all users are able to see it but if you can, let us know and give us your first impressions!
UPDATE: According to a response from Facebook:
“We are currently testing a simplified alternative to Facebook.com that loads a specific set of features quickly and efficiently. Similar to the Facebook experience you get on your mobile phones, Facebook “Lite” is a fast-loading, simplified version of Facebook that enables people to make comments, accept Friend requests, write on people’s Walls, and look at photos and Status updates. We are currently testing Facebook Lite in countries where we are seeing lots of new users coming to Facebook for the first time and are looking to start off with a more simple experience.”
So, it’s all about ’emerging markets’, who will most probably have slow connection speeds. Still, I think I’d rather use Facebook Lite over ‘full-fat’ Facebook. So would lots of FriendFeeders, it seems.